THE UK’s economic situation makes for absolutely grim reading.

We are all trying to manage bills going through the roof. Runaway inflation means most of us are struggling to make ends meet. But this situation was not inevitable. We didn’t have to have a cost of living crisis.

Decades of short-term decisionmaking designed to suck wealth into London and the South East of England has led to a catastrophic reckoning for ordinary people. Over the past decade, we have seen one bad decision after another. From Conservative chancellor George Osborne’s decision to prioritise gas over renewables in the mid-2010s to the catastrophically planned and incompetently delivered decision to leave the EU, each of these choices is having a devastating impact. And those impacts are all coming at once.

While we watch the Westminster soap opera where one completely untrustworthy politician is replaced by another, it is tempting to think that there is no way out of this mess.

But the one thing that we do know is that smaller countries are much more effective at bringing people together to plan for the future. The short-termism that has put us in a position where we have no gas storage facilities, while so many rely on gas to heat their homes, was an active choice. And it is the sort of choice that smaller countries in Europe tend not to make.

As we face up to the need to change our economy to deal with the climate emergency and change to low-carbon energy, we need to increase the trust in our politics.

Currently, wind power costs about a third of new gas, yet the UK Government is doing everything it can to keep us addicted to fossil fuels.

We know that changing the economy is something that Britain does worse than almost anywhere else in the rich world. We need to make sure that the coming economic change is one we are prepared for. We need a change we can all participate in. And we need a change that will make our lives better. We can have lower energy prices and long-term, high-quality jobs. But we know that the Westminster government is more focused on its own drama.

It goes further than just the London political establishment. At present, too many of the important assets that affect our lives are in the hands of big businesses that are interested either in making a quick buck or holding on to buildings with no interest in how they are used.

Union Street is a mess at the moment, full of empty shops. Yet the rents being sought don’t reflect this. The corporations that own the buildings are holding on to them in the hope that the property market will recover, allowing them to make a profit by selling the building.

We need more retail space for local businesses and more social space. Yet it isn’t in the interest of the owners to revitalise Aberdeen.

With the powers of an independent country, we could make sure that our high streets are managed not in the interest of footloose finance.

Instead, our economy should be run in the interest of our cities and our citizens. We have an economy that is run in the interests of the wrong people. It was bad even in the good times. As we face the most difficult economic pressures of the past 40 years, we can’t afford to let it go on.

We need to make decisions in our own interests, rather than those of companies quoted on the London Stock Exchange.

This article was published as part of a special-edition paper distributed in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire by the Aberdeen Independence Movement. Click HERE to read more of these articles.